Siddarth Mahajan, a landlord with properties in Barking, Essex has received a 16 month custodial sentence after he fraudulently claimed his newly converted HMOs had actually been in existence since 2008.
In his attempt to avoid the need for planning permission for his conversions on three properties he forged a series of documents, purportedly proving that the properties had been let out as HMOs for all those years.
Mahajan had supplied Barking and Dagenham Council with forged tenancy agreements, a letter from an estate agent and he had sworn an affidavit to confirm that the properties had been a HMOs (house of multiple occupation) since 2008.
Mahajan, form Ilford, Essex, had converted his three-bedroom property in Sherwood Gardens, Barking, to accommodate multiple occupants in contravention of the planning laws. He received the prison sentence for fraudulently forging documents for three properties in Barking and his illegally converting the three houses into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
His money making scheme came to light while building work was being carried out on a property of which the council became aware. When challenged, Mr Mahajan claimed that the properties had been in use as HMOs for over ten years, which ordinarily would have established legal long term use as HMOs without the need for planning consent.
Snaresbrook Crown Court found Mahajan guilty on two counts of perverting the course of justice and three counts of using copies of forged documents. He was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to 16 months in Prison.
Judge Gordon presiding told Mahajan that he had “planned sophisticated criminal activity over a lengthy period” and was motivated solely by greed.
Barking and Dagenham Councillor, and cabinet member for environment and community safety, Margaret Mullane, told The Barking and Dagenham Post:
“This dishonest landlord repeatedly refused to comply with the law and we pursued all the legal avenues that were available to us to ensure that he was brought to justice. We will continue to crack down on rogue landlords to improve standards and to ensure tenants have a decent home.”
For planning permission to be required there must be a material change of use of the property. A change of Use Class (e.g. C3 single use, to C4 multi-occupancy use) does not necessarily mean there has been a material change in use, although this is indicative. Not every conversion to HMO is a material change of use, so seek advice from your local authority before making any changes.
Most local authorities see a change from single use to HMO as a material change, different interpretations seem to apply from authority to authority depending on the specific planning policy in force in that area.©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.